Tweetbot Neue

Tech blogger and humorist Mike Beasley set up a fake Twitter account promoting “Tweetbot Neue”, a supposed iOS 7 refresh of Tweetbot, and posted an intentionally-botched redesign of the app icon. People bought into this.

The lesson here is pretty simple: you people don’t really know design. You just get excited over certain designers. Apple makes some shoddy icons and you all defend them. Tapbots allegedly makes a shoddy icon and you can’t wait to get your hands on it.

If one looks back at the pre-WWDC hype around iOS 7, it was because of the fact that Jony Ive gained the SVP of Design position at Apple.1 So there’s some weight behind this.

Yet I wouldn’t actually reference this trick in explaining why people are excited about iOS 7. It may expose that the Apple community loves their designers, but it might be more representative of the thirst for change.2 Unless there were actual mock-ups of a horrendous Tweetbot Neue and everyone instantly clamored over them, this shouldn’t be taken as an accurate portrayal of how all of us techies view design.

Plus, it’s Twitter, so stuff like this would bounce right around in that echo chamber.


  1. The hype didn’t really make sense at the time. 

  2. Credit to Matt Alexander for the initial idea for this, of course. 

Same difference

From Craig Lloyd, of Slashgear:

Alienware general manager Frank Azor says that consoles are simply “becoming more and more like PCs,” proving that the PC is the ultimate gaming machine, and Microsoft and Sony are simply taking that concept and putting it in the living room. [...]

 

Because of this, Azor believes that “the PC is the gaming platform of choice out there…there is nothing out there that’s better.” Essentially, the influence that PC gaming has on console gaming is quite tremendous. Ideas like digital downloads and TV and movie streaming on the Xbox One and PS4 are ideas taken from the PC that were originally implemented several years ago.

What else is new?

The thing that Azor is missing about PC gaming is that it is highly inaccessible. Computers made for gaming tend to be even more expensive than consoles.1 If you custom-build one yourself to save some money, you’re still going to run into mandatory part upgrade costs and maintenance if you want to keep up with the latest games.

It’ll take a lot to get gamers off of consoles and onto PCs in order to make consoles completely irrelevant.


  1. Even Alienware’s least expensive option, the X51 Gaming Desktop, costs more than the Xbox One. 

Long shadow design

Jeff Escalante:

f you are a design hipster looking for the next big thing, allow us to introduce the next design trend: Long Shadow Design. As you might be able to imagine, this trend includes objects with disproportionately long shadows, and for some reason it looks great.

Reminds me of the cover art of 5by5 podcasts, except that the extrusions in this case are being used for a shadow effect. Also, SyFy got to this trend before everyone else.

Excuses for iOS 7

Marco Arment, from the Accidental Tech Podcast, Episode 18:

Sometimes when you’re drawing or designing something, you take some aspect of it and intentionally make it look “wrong”… you push it slightly more along one axis, because it creates a visual or emotional tension.

 

When I look at iOS 7, I think there are parts of the design that are unsettling, or some would say “ugly”. Like the circles [in the iTunes and App Store icons]: I saw them and they look too big to me as well. But I thought that they [Apple] know that these circles seem too big. Perhaps its for readability. But it also could be that a design where everything is made to conform to that beautiful ideal is more boring and lacks character. And I’m willing to believe that some aspects of iOS 7 were done with that in mind.

I understand this statement from my experience in graphic design, but I really can’t take this seriously as an excuse for why iOS looks bad. User interfaces should work well, make sense, and be built (obviously) for utility. Their purpose is not to be an art piece, where making something intentionally look wrong or confusing is acceptable. User interfaces are for using, not just for looking at.

iOS in its current state, despite looking beautiful, is potentially confusing1. And saying that the intentionally-botched aesthetics — an artistic decision — is an excuse for the decreased usability is a completely invalid argument.


  1. I tried out iOS 7 on a friend’s phone, and it wasn’t bad for me. Although, I find the that the new design direction might be very jarring to non-techies. To quote a linked article from yesterday:

    When a user wants to tap that borderless button (maybe we should call them links) he may have to spend a few more milliseconds to locate it than to locate a bordered button that is placed on a visually distinguishable navigation bar. Those milliseconds are enough to make his experience less than enjoyable.

     

Xbox One, headset not included

An official statement from Microsoft, in reply to Ars Technica’s post:

Xbox One does not include a pack-in headset accessory. Each Xbox One includes the new Kinect sensor, with a highly sensitive multi-array microphones designed to enable voice inputs and chat as a system-level capability, both in-game and with Skype and other experiences. For gamers who prefer a headset, we have a variety of offerings that you can find on the Xbox Wire.

Presumably, the lack of headset is to prevent the console from being even more expensive than the Sony PlayStation 4.1 But the reason that Xbox One is even more expensive in the first place is because Kinect comes included.

Not that Kinect isn’t capable of handling in-game voice chat (it is), nor is a headset really important. However, it goes to show how Microsoft is pinning their hopes more on home entertainment2 than gaming.


  1. The PS4′s price was announced at $399, while One will be at $499. 

  2. The main demonstrations of Kinect at the Xbox One conference and E3 were mainly about controlling the user interface (e.g. split screen).